The Worshipping Power of “I Don’t Know”
There was a time once in some far off planet where the answer to every question wasn’t simply an “OK Google” or “Hey Alexa” away. On a side note, I’ve often thought about how annoying it would be to be named Alexa these days. On a side-side note, I also think it would be incredibly entertaining to have a friend named Alexa and just bombard her with random questions on a regular basis. “Hey Alexa, how many ounces are there in 29 quarts?” “Hey Alexa, who won the 1939 World Series?”
When my children have a question, they expect an answer, and they expect it immediately. And nine times out of ten, via Google (or Siri or Alexa), they get it.
I’m not sure what bothers me more about this reality: the expectation of immediate answers to everything or the unquestioned faith that the answer they are receiving is the truth.
Is it okay for us to not have all the answers? Would that mean admitting that some things are beyond our understanding? Can Siri explain why the hardest worker at your company lost his job while Lazy Larry keeps climbing the ladder? Google cannot tell me why one of my children was born to a poor, 16 year-old widowed woman in Ethiopia. Alexa does not know why your husband left you in the dead of night without warning. Hey Siri, why is one child born a crack baby while another is born to become prince?
To most of us, simplistic, practical answers to these questions fail to satisfy the deepest longings for understanding in our hearts. Like an intuitive 4 year-old, the answers to many “why” questions can simply be followed by another “why” and then another and another. At some point, we must admit there are some things we just don’t know, and here’s why that’s good:
1. “I Don’t Know” Humbles Us
“I don’t know” puts us in our right places: imperfect, deficient, finite sinners in need of something greater. We were never meant to have all of the answers. “Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, you cannot understand the work of God, who does all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5) “I don’t know” humbly acknowledges our deficiencies and weaknesses.
2. “I Don’t Know” Elevates God to His Rightful Place
“I Don’t Know” just might be one of the most worshipful statements that we can utter.
It means acknowledging the limitations of yourself and praising the limitlessness of the ultimate Answerer to our “why’s”, whose “thoughts are not your thoughts” and whose “ways are not our ways.” (Isaiah 55:8)
3. “I Don’t Know” Frees Us
Anxiety typically comes when we are trying to take on more than we were intended to, or we’re trying to meet an unrealistic, unattainable standard.
When we free ourselves from the consuming burden of having to know everything and having to figure everything out, we are freed to fully worship the One who truly does know everything.
If you’re struggling with “I don’t knows,” it’s time to stop. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you cease all efforts in seeking answers to life’s most perplexing issues. I’m simply saying that you cannot let your failure to find all of the answers lead to despair. Rather, let those “I don’t know’s” lead you to humility, worship, and ultimate freedom. After all, God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Therefore, let us boast all the more gladly in our limitations, so that the power of Christ can work through us.